"CUTENESS ALERT!" When an institution devoted to science and the ocean and earth care and animal study puts out a Cuteness Alert, complete with exclamation point, trust that they know of which they speak. And cuteness is indeed afoot, or aflipper, with this particular alert, which deals with the public debut of Otter no. 649 at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. If you don't know the significance of that number at first glance, a little pondering and consideration may help you arrive at the answer. Should we wait? Okay, we'll spill it: He's "the 649th stranded otter to be brought into our Sea Otter Research and Conservation Program since 1984," says the museum. That's quite the hefty number, a number that reveals the program's dedication to keeping an eye out for the bewhiskered abalone aficionados who are synonymous with the spirit of Monterey Bay. Otter 649 "was stranded in November 2013 on on Jalama Beach in Santa Barbara County as a three-week-old weighing less than seven pounds." But some TLC and rehabilitation at the aquarium soon had him on the up-and-up, otterly speaking, and he made his grand, wet entrance on Tuesday, Jan. 21.
HIS COMPANION OTTER: Otter 649 boasts a bud as well, a "companion otter" if you will, and her name is Gidget. Photos released by the aquarium show them both frolicking and hanging out, in the way that otters do. "This is the first pup that Gidget has mentored," say the staff, and 649 will "remain on exhibit as long as husbandry staff see positive interactions with Gidget." He's also non-releasable, per the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and will one day make his home at a new aquarium. Where, we assume, he'll graduate from his numerical handle to a moniker as catchy as the one his companion otter boasts. Want to see him? Best get to Monterey on the soonish side, before 649 heads to new shores. Or aquariums, rather.
AND... it's true that otters actually have webbed feet, and not flippers. But still, how amazing that mammals boast such amazing appendages. Otters, you do impress, always.